There's no denying it: promoting your own book can feel daunting. Even the phrase 'self-promotion' can conjure images of greasy sales pros with crushing handshakes and special deals just for you. The transition from solitary author to in-your-face marketer can be anxiety producing.
If you're an introvert – and really, most authors and artists are – the reality that authors who don't promote themselves won't sell their books can be depressing. As a shy person once said, they’d rather be in the casket than delivering the eulogy.
Happily, self-promotion needn’t be traumatic. As an introvert, you have your own promotional superpowers. While an extroverted author might wax poetic about their book, an introvert possesses a superior ability to listen actively and authentically. The result? An introvert is quiet enough to hear where their audience is at, what they want, and what they expect. In other words, you can make your pitch relevant to them. This ability to listen, observe, and consider not only makes for a better sales pitch, it can inform the way you create. Truly, we wouldn't be where we are without great introverts who listened rather than gabbed, and reflected rather than hobnobbed.
Rowling, Faulkner, Galileo, Einstein and Van Gogh. Not bad company, right?
With that in mind, here are some helpful tips that can help you to accept and embrace your quiet power.
1. Build Friendships, Not Networks
You're nobody if you're not out there networking. Myth. While it’s true that modern authors must also be entrepreneurs and marketers, that doesn’t mean you have to shake hands with everyone at that conference or party. Networking is what extroverts do – talk.
Instead, use your talent for listening to build friendships. You’ll see more benefit by spending time in meaningful conversation with fewer people than if you “work a room” with silky chit-chat. Nurturing real connections will open new doors and opportunities for you to get your book into people’s hands. Exchanging business cards was never more exciting.
2. Embrace Social Media
Social media was invented by introverts (both Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates are famously introverted). With social media, you can socialize on your own time and control what you share and who you share it with. It's like being at the prom on your own terms, without the peer pressure of being a certain way or the guilt of hovering over the punch bowl and not dancing. Dance when you want to!
We recommend starting with Facebook and Twitter and use the 80/20 rule: write about your book 20% of the time, and dedicate the remaining 80% to content on the topic and genre of your book, and even on your own interests, if you want. Be sure to link them to and from your author website. Next, try to post on Facebook once a day, Tweet two or three times, and share/retweet to show your followers more great content while making a connection with the original user you're sharing from. You can quickly build friendships and a following this way. With Twitter especially, you can easily find the target readership of your book, people interested in what you're into, and even other authors who enjoy solitude as you do by using an apt hashtag or two in each tweet. That’s #IntrovertPower.
3. Blog, and Connect with Other Bloggers
A blog might sound like a contagious pathogen, but actually it’s one of the most fun and effective ways to attract people to your website — and to the “Buy now!” links for your book. It’s so effective that most authors and businesses have one (case in point: you’re on our blog right now!).
As with social media, we recommend you write with the 80/20 rule in mind. Include a photo with each post to maximize shareability on social media. Start now by following other bloggers with related interests. Once you have a few blog posts under your belt, try reaching out to a blogger you like to thank them for their great writing and see if they’d be interested in guest blogging, writing a post for your blog, or vice versa. Most authors want collaboration, not competition.
4. Get to Know the Power of “Yes”
So many websites urge authors to say “Yes” to every opportunity. And although having positive attitude to opportunities is good advice, it’s also important to stay true to yourself. Saying 'yes' to some situations that might feel risky – like a book signing or a radio interview – can be critical to your book promotion efforts (while also boosting your self-confidence), but it’s also important not to send yourself into stress overload. Check-in with yourself before you use the Y-word. It’s one thing to nudge yourself, quite another to sign up for something you’re not emotionally equipped to handle. Be kind to yourself and don't push. As many of us learned on the school playground, pushing just leads to falling. Say “yes” on your own terms.
5. You Don't Have to Respond to Your Fans…
...all the time. It's true, you will have fans as you promote your book. Your community will have all kinds of compliments, questions and requests for you. You'll find that most authors don't respond to everyone. They may leave a response to an intelligent question on a Facebook comment, but they don't stay and get involved.
Your social media is on your time. Selectively responding rather than compulsively responding actually comes across as more professional. It creates the mystique that you are probably busy doing events or head down working on your next bestseller. If your fans know you're an introvert, they'll respect you for not being overly active on social media, too.
6. Forget About Being Persuasive, Be Authentic with Your Story
Extroverts can be persuasive, and love to tell everyone that they have to be just like them to succeed. Don’t believe the hype. The best way to succeed in talking up your book is to be authentic—and you do this by telling your story in a way that is relevant to your audience. What are your listeners most likely to be interested in? What will be the most informative and/or entertaining for them? Can you pose a question your listeners will just have to know the answer to? Your job is to provide your audience with real value, not just a bunch of salesy buzzwords. Trust in your natural ability to listen, speak honestly and tell engaging stories to get people interested. Authenticity always trumps artifice.
7. Make Time to Recharge Your Batteries
Above all, remember to take time for self-care. Find your quiet space and recharge, even if that means putting some things, or people, on pause. You’re only at your best when you’re grounded and mindful. Once your promotional efforts take off, things can move quickly, so be sure to pace yourself with breaks.
Key takeaway: An introvert’s capacity for self-reflection is directly correlated to the wonderful creative ideas that will lift your book above the market’s noise and static. Stay true to yourself and not only will your book and author persona “ring true”, you’ll be in the company of legions of other creative introverts who have changed the world for the better.
For more insight into how introverts can make the most of their unique talents, check out Quiet author Susan Cain’s website here.
Written by James Stewart, FriesenPress Book Promotions Specialist
Edited by Christian Fink-Jensen, FriesenPress Marketing Manager